You might have heard the term STEM mentioned lately.

The acronym that has educators, businesses and politicians abuzz, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is considered the cornerstone to our nation’s prosperity. It is an interdisciplinary approach to learning by combining multiple academic subjects and focusing on real-world lessons. It is about students applying science, technology, engineering and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work and the world around them while moving students forward – creating stronger problem solvers and more creative innovators to lead the global economy.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, innovation, largely derived from advances in science and engineering, is a primary driver of the future economy and creation of jobs. However, the percentage of science and engineering degrees awarded annually peaked in the 1960's. In Central Florida, we actually lag behind. Only 20% of the degrees awarded in Central Florida are in the STEM fields, compared to 30% nationally.

Students are finishing high school without being fully prepared for college. According to The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013 report, only 19% of Florida’s class of 2013 scored “college-ready” on all four ACT exams. When compared to performance nationally, Florida ranked 41st in math and 48th in science on the 2013 ACT. In an increasingly competitive world, where innovation is the key to a flourishing economy, the need for us to educate ourselves and our children in STEM fields is more pressing than ever.

Orlando Science Center is taking a stand in the efforts to revitalize STEM education in our community. Whether you encounter us here in the facility with your family, with your Scout organization, on a field trip, or even through one of our off-site school programs, our goal is the same – to show people that exploring these critical areas in an informal way can be fun, exciting and even inspiring.

 

Our hope is that you’ll take the things you discovered as a result of your time with us and use them as a springboard to explore at home and in school too. Our ultimate goal is to create a STEM-centered community that paves the way towards excellence in science, technology, engineering and math.

If future generations don’t receive an adequate STEM education, they won’t have the opportunity for the highest paying jobs, compete in a global market or fill the STEM pipeline that leads to economic growth. We hope you’ll join us on this journey!

On Tuesday, August 6, Orlando Science Center welcomed Dr. Ioannis Miaoulis, director of the Museum of Science, Boston. Dr. Miaoulis is a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) advocate and has testified on the importance of K-12 engineering education in 2009 before the U.S. House of Representatives Research & Science Education Subcommittee and in 2010 before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Dr. Miaoulis spoke about STEM education and how the current school curriculum focuses very little on how our human-made world is made. He also discussed major initiatives to promote technological literacy to children in front of an audience of elected officials, educators and community influencers.




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As a platinum sponsor of the Summer of Dreams program, Siemens is helping to bring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education to homeless students in Central Florida.

In partnership with Orlando Science Center, Siemens engineers volunteered to lead an interactive, hands-on Discovery Lab that featured in-depth design challenges based on engineering principles. One of the projects taught participants how to build a load-bearing bridge.

Now in its third year, Summer of Dreams was founded to fill an unmet need for food, shelter and supervision for homeless students when school is not in session. The program provides two meals a day, activities, school supplies, academic and STEM-enrichment, and mentoring — as well as financial counseling for parents, offered by founding sponsor Fifth Third Bank.




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You say you’re not a "science person”? That’s okay, many people feel the same way. They’re wrong though, and so are you. Granted, you might not be a physicist or a physician, you might not have even passed biology in middle school. But you are a science person. I know this because you don’t have a choice.

Science is all around us. It might not be as apparent in some places as it is in others, but it is everywhere. Think about the rush of technology and what you have to understand now that you couldn’t fathom before. Or, the advances in medicine that will help us live longer and healthier than we ever dreamed possible. Consider the fact that, not too long ago, a cross-country flight was a big deal. Today, commercial companies are travelling into space.

Think about the questions you ask – or better still, the questions your children ask. Think about the look of amazement in their eyes when they discover something new. The questions that they ask, the way they find the answers, science is right next to you.

As we move further into uncertain times, with no real firm answers in sight, one thing is for sure… science matters and will matter more than ever. Here’s the exciting news though, science is right next to you, asking those questions, exploring new things. And some day, they’ll be the ones with the answers.

So, your science homework for tonight is not to keep science at arm’s length. Embrace it. Set an example for it. After all, you are a science person.


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Local Students and Schools to Benefit from Free Field Trips to Learn about Energy

ORLANDO (May 4, 2012) – The Progress Energy Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to the Orlando Science Center to allow 2,500 fourth grade students to participate in “Get Energized” field trips free of charge. The program, now in its second year, is designed to excite students in Progress Energy’s service territory about energy, alternative energy and energy efficiency.

“The Orlando Science Center and Progress Energy have shared a longtime partnership in serving our community,” said Science Center President JoAnn Newman. “Thanks to their support, the Science Center will be able to expand on the learning that takes place in the classroom in a very dynamic way. Together, we can achieve the mutual goal of exciting young people through hands-on engagement in STEM subjects.”

Field trips will include a tour through the Science Park exhibit hall, participation in the “High Voltage” live show and a giant screen film in the Dr. Phillips CineDome. The Science Center will recruit schools from Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Polk and Volusia counties. Preference will be given to schools in underserved communities. The program will start again with field trips in the next academic year and run throughout the fall semester.

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Dr. Ioannis N. Miaoulis, President and Director of the Museum of Science, Boston visited the Orlando Science Center on February 15 to speak to a select crowd of educators, community leaders, science center staff and trustees, and other VIP's about his efforts to impact science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in America.  In this video, he takes a few minutes to answer questions for our viewers about engineering education.



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777 E. Princeton Street • Orlando, Florida 32803 • Phone: 407.514.2000 • TTY: 407.514.2005 • Toll Free: 888.OSC.4FUN • Email: gservices@osc.org
  Orlando Science Center is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of power2give.org/centralflorida and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts.
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